February 20th, 1996: A Tuesday. Lane and I are living in San Francisco. I walk down Folsom Street on my way to my part-time job, and run into Mickey, the leatherman who never leaves South of Market, not even to go to the Castro. We have lunch at a gay Chinese restaurant, and I talk him into participating in the youth outreach program at the MCC.
February 19th, 2006: A Sunday. I'm visiting Amsterdam. I have dinner at an Indonesian restaurant, and then go to the Horseman's Club on Warmoestraat, for men with gigantic beneath-the-belt gifts. I meet Azi from Suriname, who has a Kovbasa+ . He invites me home to be a "birthday" present for his college-aged brother, Eli.
February 23rd, 2016: A Tuesday. I live in Plains, a small town in the vast Midwestern wilderness.
Except I'm not in town; I'm at a farmhouse, gazing at the dark vastness of snow-covered fields through the window. (Photo from National Geographic)
And then at the country-kitchen style living room, where heterosexuals are occupying couches and chairs, listening to a middle aged woman named Claire read poetry.
West Hollywood, San Francisco, Amsterdam, farmhouse. How the mighty have fallen!
Her poems are sort of like Spoon River Anthology, telling the story of a farm family during the Great Recession of 2007-2008: middle-aged Jo (that must be Claire), her worry-laden husband, Grandpa and Grandma, her teenage daughter who wants to be a farmer, and her teenage son, who wishes he was a thousand miles away.
Me, too. It's about a thousand miles to the Flex Club in Cleveland. It's probably busy right about now.
Do the poems at least describe the husband's hard muscles glistening in the sun, or dark-eyed farmboys going skinny-dipping in the creek?
Nope. Lots of lines about grandpa smelling soft earth, Jo's smooth skin starting to mottle with age, the husband's inner strength that guides you through adversity, and the son looking up at bluebirds flying to Oz.
Maybe he escaped to the nearest gay neighborhood.
West Hollywood, San Francisco, Amsterdam, farmhouse. Where are the snows of yesterday?
I hated Spoon River, I hate these poems, and I hate farmhouses. What am I even doing here?
The hostess invited me. She's a professor at the University, so it's a good career move.
I look around at the other poetry aficionados. Mostly elderly women, a couple of middle-aged men. A slim, creepy-looking bald guy leading an even creepier-looking bald guy by the arm.
Lovers -- no -- father and son.
At the last heterosexual gathering I went to, I hooked up with Dustin, the host's son. But no cute college boys burst in to fill the room with life and excitement. I am alone.
Years go falling in the fading light. Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight.
Question time. I raise my hand. "Are the son and daughter based on your real-life children?"
"To an extent. But Jane is the one who didn't want to become a farmer -- she's living in New York. Kyle loved farm life."
Didn't he escape to a gay neighborhood? "What's he doing now?"
"He majored in agriculture at the university, and now he's an agronomist up in Yankton."
Someone else raises a hand to ask about the dramatic structure of the poems. My wheels spin.
Evidence that Kyle is gay:
1. He longed to escape.
2. He would be around 30 now, and Claire didn't mention a wife and kids.
3. A reference to Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz.
Evidence that Kyle is hetero:
1. He works as an agronomist
2. In Yankton, South Dakota.
Can you imagine anything more stultifying than standing in a vast field, beneath a blank sky, looking at plants? For a living?
But I really want him to be gay. I want there to be gay people in farmhouses in vast fields, beneath blank skies.
He has indefatigably hetero country interests: Brad Paisley, Lonesome Dove, sports, sports, and sports. But he also likes Modern Family, and he's a proponent of marriage equality. Besides, no wife or kids mentioned.
I friend him with a "Hi, I know your Mom."
The next day, we chat.
Kyle: I see you've lived in L.A., New York, and Fort Lauderdale. What are you doing on the Plains?
Boomer: A job, what else? What are you doing in Yankton?
Kyle: I love it here! It's my sister Jane who's the big city gal. She and her girlfriend live right in the heart of the East Village. Hey, maybe they were your neighbors!"
Jane and her...girlfriend? I was so obsessed with finding a gay boy in the farmhouse that I never thought about the girl: growing up thinking she was all alone, getting crushes on cheerleaders instead of football players, discovering what "lesbian" meant on the internet, plotting her escape to a gay neighborhood in the biggest big city she could find.
West Hollywood, San Francisco, Amsterdam, farmhouse. Et in Arcadia ego.
Well, every story can't be about a hookup.
The complete story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.